Experience Repeat Trade Show Success with These Best Practices

Trade shows are still good for business. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) noted in a 2012 survey that almost 50 percent of the attendees surveyed said face-to-face interaction with the exhibitors was more valuable to them than before. By creating a plan incorporating a few of the following best practices, you can have a successful trade show routine ready to take on the road anywhere:

Photo by maebmij via Flickr

Put a Plan in Place

Most exhibitors plan months ahead of time. Get your plan started by first identifying the purpose for your attendance. Bellrock notes several reasons why your company may want to participate in a trade show, including:

  • to sell products
  • to meet potential customers
  • to gain visibility to your brand
  • to perform market research
  • to announce new products or services

Knowing exactly what you plan to get out of the activity lets you tailor your trade show presence. It also guides the training you’ll do with all the participants.

Photo by ArnoldReinhold via WIkimedia Commons

Put together a team that will work together before the show so they can train to seamlessly broadcast your message. Choose a leader who will be responsible for communication before, during and after the show. Train the team together so customers see organization within the booth, not chaos.

Designing the Booth Space

Trade show attendees wander up and down the aisles until something catches their eye. Make sure your booth is the one that makes them stop. Within a few seconds, attendees should be able to know two things:

  • the products and services you are representing
  • the benefit the attendee will gain by using those products and services

Display your logo and company name on banners and signs. Use various sign designs that can be seen from different perspectives in the trade show space. Companies such as PostUpStand can take your banners, logos and designs and produce a number of different signs to promote your brand. As with any marketing effort, the more ways a consumer sees your brand information, the more likely you are to be recognized and remembered.

Keep the clutter in the booth to a minimum to maximize the team’s interaction with people. They should always be up and talking with potential customers. Breaks should be taken outside of the booth. A booth that doesn’t look busy, with staff lounging and talking to one another, frequently gets passed by.

Photo by nickgraywfu via Flickr

Information, brochures and business cards should be within reach of attendees. If you have takeaways for attendees, give them out yourself instead of making them available for people to just take. This gives you another opportunity to talk with people.

Defining Your Game Play

Everyone working in the booth must know their role and how to play it. Everyone can talk with people but there may be people on the team with unique knowledge or experience that can be called on in specific situations. If you’re selling digital white boards and an attendee introduces herself as a high school superintendent, turn the conversation over to your team member who once taught school for a living.

The New York Times suggests you qualify the attendee in the first moments of your discussion with an attendee. Are they the decision maker or just out gathering information? Are they a supplier, or perhaps a competitor? This step will keep you from wasting time with someone with no intention of using your product or services.

Photo by ThinkGeoEnergy via Flickr

Once past this step, engage the person with open-ended questions. Get them to talk about how they see the products or services benefiting them. Ask the high school superintendent “How might our digital white board be used by your teachers to get their students to participate in class?” Closing a sale is much easier once the customer has convinced themselves that they should have the product.

Post Trade Show Follow Up

Some companies wait too long after a trade show to follow up with potential customers. The week after the trade show, those people should be contacted. Offer to send additional information or answer any questions. Direct them to the company website and any white papers or videos that may be of interest. For example, watching videos with “how to” information regarding the use of your product may entice the customer to finally choose your product or service.

Mike McDaniel

Trade show coordinator, marketing expert, runner

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